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Archive for Cookies/Cake/Pastry

GLUTEN FREE: Cheryl’s Cookies

Cheryl's Gluten Free Cookies

Gluten Free Cookies

You can’t tell that these gluten-free cookies are gluten free! Photo courtesy Cheryl’s.

 

We have dear friends and readers with gluten sensitivity, so we keep an eye out for anything above the ordinary that they might enjoy.

When Cheryl’s offered us a taste test of their conventional versus gluten-free cookies in advance of National Gluten Free Day (January 13th), we didn’t hesitate to bite.

They said we wouldn’t be able to taste the difference, and they were correct.

No one could tell that the GF cookies were gluten free. The texture had no graininess or other telltale sign of most gluten free cookies.

The one difference is that the GF cookies are less sweet than the conventional ones. But this feature would only be noticed in a side-by-side tasting.

So if you want cookies for yourself, or are looking to Valentine’s Day gifts, head to Cheryl’s.

There are gift boxes of every description, filled with:

  • Brownie walnut cookies
  • Snickerdoodle cookies
  • Chocolate chip cookies
  • Buttercream-frosted sugar cookies
  • Fudge brownies
  •  
    (We tasted only the chocolate chip and snickerdoodle GF flavors.)

    The cookies are produced in a dedicated gluten-free facility, and are individually wrapped for grab-and-go as well as freshness.

    Check out the selection at Cheryls.com.

     

     
      

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    ELVIS RECIPE: Graceland Cupcakes

    Elvis would be 82 today; “The King” was born January 8, 1935.

    While Elvis Presley is not exactly known for being a foodie, we, along with millions of fans worldwide, like to celebrate his birthday with a few hours of Elvis tunes and his favorite snack food: a fried sandwich filled with peanut butter, sliced banana and bacon (photo #1: here’s the recipe).

    This recipe was developed in honor of Elvis, whose favorite sandwich was PB, bacon and banana.

    Past celebrations at THE NIBBLE have included an:

  • Elvis Burger
  • Elvis Sandwich
  • Elvis Sundae
  •  
    Inspired by the king of rock and roll, these cupcakes are packed to the core with peanut butter. Top them off with candied bacon for a royally delectable dessert.

    RECIPE: GRACELAND MINI CUPCAKES
    (BANANA CUPCAKES WITH PEANUT BUTTER & BACON)

    You can use lowfat versions of the sour cream and cream cheese; but why bother? These are mini cupcakes, after all (photo #3).

    Instead, have one with the diet version of one of his favorite soft drinks: Pepsi Cola, Nesbitt’s Orange and Shasta Black Cherry.

    For The Cupcakes

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ripe bananas, the browner the better
  • 1/2 cup lite sour cream
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 large egg white at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  
    Peanut Butter Filling

  • Approximately 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  •  
    Bacon Topping

  • 4 slices bacon
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  •  
    Frosting

  • 8 ounces low fat cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  •  

    PB Banana Sandwich

    Elvis Burger

    Elvis Cupcakes

    [1] Don’t want an Elvis sandwich (recipe and photo from Hipsubwg | Blogspot). Have some [2] If Elvis had only thought of it, he’d have liked this The Elvis Burger, with bacon and peanut butter sauce (photo courtesy Helen Graves | Food Stories. [3] Graceland Cupcakes (photo and recipe courtesy Peanut Butter Lovers).

     

    Preparation

    1. HEAT the oven to 350°F. Line cupcake tins with paper liners and lightly spray with cooking spray. Line a baking sheet with foil.

    2. MAKE the batter. In a medium size bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir until blended.

    3. MASH the bananas and add sour cream in small bowl. Mix well and set aside.

    4. BEAT until incorporated, with an electric hand mixer, the butter, oil and sugar (3-5 minutes). Add the eggs, egg white and vanilla. Mix until combined. Slowly add half of the dry ingredients and mix until almost incorporated. Add the sour cream and banana mixture and gently fold into the batter. Add the rest of the dry ingredients until combined. Spoon the batter into lined cupcake pans.

    5. BAKE for 18 to 20 minutes and let cool (do not turn off the oven). Once cool (about 30-45 minutes), use a paring knife to cut a small circle in the middle of the top of the cupcakes and remove the plug, creating a well about halfway down the cupcake. Using a piping bag, pipe the peanut butter to fill each hole. Set aside.

    6. PLACE brown sugar in medium size bowl and dredge the bacon slices on both sides. Place them on the baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Flip bacon and bake for another 6-8 minutes. Remove bacon from oven and place on plate to cool. Do not put bacon on paper towels: It will stick. Once cool, chop the bacon and set aside.

    7. MAKE the frosting. In a large bowl combine the cream cheese, butter, peanut butter and vanilla extract. Mix until combined. Add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until well combined. Add to a piping bag. Pipe a dollop of frosting onto each cupcake and sprinkle with the candied bacon pieces.

      

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    RECIPE: Bouchons Au Chocolat

    Bouchon (BOO-shone) is the French word for cork; hence the name of these little chocolate cookie-cakes*, made in timbale molds, also called baba molds.

    They are rich and brownie-like, and the inspiration for Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery (here’s his bouchon recipe).

    These chocolate “corks” are an ideal sweet for New Year’s Eve, and you can serve them for dessert with a sweeter champagne or other sparkling wine for dessert.

    This recipe, from Good Eggs, combines dark cocoa powder and melted semisweet chocolate make these bouchon: way to go to usher in a sweet new year.

    Note that there are two different sizes of timbale pans. Depending on which you choose, you’ll have dessert size or nibble size pieces.

    You can also use timbale molds for other baking, shaping mousse and gelatin, vegetable sides, ice cubes and chocolate—especially chocolate-on-a-stick, a fun way to make hot chocolate.

    You can also use mini-muffin pans, but you lose the cork shape.

    RECIPE: BOUCHONS, CORK-SHAPED MINI CAKES

    Ingredients For 12 Large Bouchons

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup of cocoa rouge cocoa powder†
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter (24 tablespoons), melted and cooled a bit
  • 1 cup of quality semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • Timbale molds or mini muffin tins
  •  
    ________________
    *Technically, a cake is eaten with a fork, and a cookie is finger food. Bouchons, like brownies, are finger food; although they can be served as a cake, with ice cream, whipped cream or other garnish.

     
    †Cocoa rouge (red cocoa) is a Dutch-process cocoa that lends baked goods a particularly appealing reddish color. In some brands it is the same color as ditched chocolate; but other brands sell a much lighter, tanner, ditched chocolate. You can substitute conventional ditched cocoa if that’s what you have.
    ________________
     
     
    Preparation

     

    Chocolate Bouchon Recipe

    Silicone Timbale Mold

    Cocoa Rouge

    [1] Usher in the new year with cork-shaped bouchons au chocolat (photo courtesy Good Eggs). [2] A silicone timbale mold (photo Fat Daddio’s). [3] Cocoa rouge (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour).

     
    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Butter the inside of the timbale molds or muffin wells and cover with powdered sugar.

    2. SIFT together in a small bowl the cocoa powder, flour and a pinch of salt. In a larger bowl, use a hand mixer to beat the eggs, vanilla and granulated sugar for a couple of minutes, until they’re well combined and light yellow in color.

    3. BEAT about a quarter of the dry ingredients into the wet mixture, with the mixer on its lowest setting. Then do the same with a quarter of the butter. Repeat until all of the dry mixture and butter have been combined. Gently fold the chopped chocolate into the batter with a silicone spatula until it’s pretty evenly distributed.

    4. USING a pastry bag, a ziploc bag with the tip cut off, or just spoon, fill each of the timbale molds until they’re just over half full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out largely clean—except for the bits of melted chopped chocolate!

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Quick Chocolate Dipping Sauce With Biscotti Or Ladyfingers

    If friends and neighbors are dropping by for some holiday cheer, here’s a very quick recipe for a delicious snack. It works well as a quick dessert, too.

    Keep biscotti around—they have a long shelf life—or ladyfingers, which freeze well and can be revived in a minute in the microwave. Then, in less than five minutes, make this chocolate dipping sauce.

    The combination goes with brandy, coffee, cola, fruity red wine, liqueurs, tea, and of course, a glass of milk.

    Cubed pound cake, amaretto cookies and/or sliced fruit are also delicious with the chocolate sauce. Chocoholics may prefer brownie cubes or fingers.

    The recipe makes enough for eight two-cookie servings. We turned to one of our favorite holiday snacks, Nonni’s Biscotti.

    As a bonus, Nonni’s isn’t rock-hard like conventional biscotti made for dipping in coffee or a dessert wine like vin santo. You don’t have to dip it…although don’t hesitate to follow the tradition.

    RECIPE: CHOCOLATE DIPPING SAUCE FOR

    This festive but easy recipe, which we adapted from Nescafé, is presented as individual servings.

    But if you have a fondue pot, chafing dish, brazier, or other way to keep the chocolate sauce warm, you can set it on a table with a platter of biscotti, ladyfingers and other cookies.

    Apple wedges and orange segments also works.

    Ingredients

  • 6 ounces chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons coffee or orange liqueur (e.g. Kahlúa, Grand Marnier
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant coffee granules
  • 16 to 24 biscotti or ladyfingers
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Optional: cayenne for a bit of heat
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MELT. Place chocolate and cream in a medium, microwave-safe dish. Microwave on HIGH (100%) power for 60 seconds. Stir with whisk until smooth.

    2. COMBINE. Whisk in liqueur and coffee granules until coffee is dissolved.

    3. ASSEMBLE. Divide the chocolate sauce among 8 small dessert dishes or whatever you have: brandy snifters, ramekins, rocks glasses, small wine glasses, tea cups, etc). Place 2 to 3 ladyfingers to each glass. Serve immediately.

    Alternative: Use a plate under the dish and put the biscotti on the plate.

    Tip: Serve with espresso spoons so everyone can scoop up the remaining chocolate sauce.
     
    Find more of our favorite desserts.
     
    ABOUT NONNI’S BISCOTTI

    Nonni’s Biscotti is the number one-selling biscotti brand in the U.S.

    Whether for a coffee break, snack or part of dessert, we’ve been enjoying Nonni’s since they came onto the market in 2012. There are flavors for everyone, plus special holiday editions.

     

    Dipping Biscotti

    Nonnis Biscotti

    Hot Chocolate With Biscotti

    [1] Warm chocolate dipping sauce with biscotti or ladyfingers: a quick and easy snack or dessert. Photo and recipe courtesy Nescafé. [2] Dip from a tea cup or whatever you have (photo courtesy Feast And Fable Blog. [3] Instead of gingerbread men, serve hot chocolate with Nonni’s holiday biscotti. Don’t want hot chocolate? The biscotti are great with coffee, brandy and liqueurs (photo courtesy Nonni’s). [4] Pick up a few boxes and treat family and friends (photo | THE NIBBLE).

     
    Nonni means “grandmother” in certain Italian dialects (nonna is mainstream Italian). As you might guess, the founder’s nonni came from Italy (almost a century ago), bringing the family recipe with her.

    Nonni never envisioned or Salted Caramel (our personal favorite) or Turtle Pecan biscotti; but thankfully, her grandson did. There are eight flavors, plus seasonal specialties like Gingerbread and Pumpkin Spice.

    There are also five flavors (including cranberry) of Nonni’s ThinAddictives, a lower-calorie option.
     

    CHECK OUT THE HISTORY OF BISCOTTI.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Cookie Spread, a.k.a. Cookie Butter

    Biscoff Spread Jar

    Speculoos Spread

    Cookie Butter

    Tumbador Cookie Butter

    Nuts & More Cookie Butter

    [1] The original Biscoff Spread, used for filling cookie sandwiches at Picky Palate. [2] The European name for Biscoff Spread is Speculoos (photo courtesy Dutch Shop). [3] Trader Joe’s three private label versions include original, crunchy and cocoa swirl (photo courtesy Baking Bites). [4] A favorite flavor, from Tumbador Chocolate. [5] Even health food stores sell cookie butter—as a protein boost (photo courtesy Nuts & More).

     

    Where did the cookie butter craze originate? In Belgium!

    THE HISTORY OF SPECULOOS SPREAD (CALLED BISCOFF SPREAD IN THE U.S.)

    Cookie spread or cookie butter began as an entry in a contest sponsored by Belgium-based Lotus Bakeries.

    Lotus is the maker of Speculoos (spice) brand cookies, known the world over (and called Biscoff in some countries). Els Scheppers, a contestant on the reality show The Inventors (De Bedenker), pulverized the cookies and mixed them into “the original speculoos pasta*.”

    It wasn’t that far-fetched an idea, but it was a great one. Belgian parents (including Scheppers) were already making sandwichs of buttered bread, the butter topped with crushed Biscoff cookies.

    She didn’t win the contest, but Lotus Bakeries approached her to obtain the exclusive rights to sell the Biscoff spread.

    They are actually called speculoos (spice) cookies in Europe, but the name was deemed too hard for Americans to pronounce. Because the biscuits were so popular with coffee, the cookies were rebranded as Biscoff for the U.S. market. (It may look like peanut butter, but it’s nut-free.)

    After its arrival on these shores, companies large and small jumped on the bandwagon. Home cooked created Biscoff cupcakes with Biscoff frosting (here’s the recipe).

    Hershey’s and other large companies made cookie spreads. They were made in conventional cookie flavors, plus Chocolate Macaroon and Pumpkin Spice.

    Even health-oriented stores sell it, manufactured from Nuts & More, a company that got Shark Tank funding. Their “High Protein + Peanut Spreads” include Toffee Crunch and White Chocolate, among other flavors.
    ________________
    *Pasta is derived from the Latin word for paste. In Europe it is used to describe foods from spaghetti (a paste of flour and water) to meat loaf (a paste of ground meat and fat to the fruit squares (pâte de fruit) that we call fruit gels.

     
    COOKIE SPREAD/BUTTER VERSUS NUT BUTTER

    Before we go further, let us emphasize that cookie butter is not a substitute for peanut [or other nut/seed] butter.

    They may be touted as alternatives to nut butters, but that’s only in spreadability, not in nutrition. They are better compared to chocolate spreads. To avoid confusing consumers, all of the cookie-based spreads should be called cookie spreads, not cookie butters.

  • Natural nut butters are simply ground nuts and a bit of salt. Supermarket brands often add caloric sweetener, vegetable oils and stabilizers (mono and diglicerides
  • Nut butters have protein and fiber. Cookie butters do not—unless they so specify.
  • Large brands of nut butters have been headed in the direction of cookie butter (actually, it’s vice versa), with chocolate swirl and other flavors.
  • Nutella, a hazelnut and chocolate spread, is not much more nutritious than cookie butter. It has some protein fiber from the hazelnuts but lots of sugar. On their website, sugar is listed as the first ingredient, followed by palm oil. The two “good” ingredients, hazelnuts and cocoa powder, are third and fourth.
  •  
    MAKE YOUR OWN COOKIE SPREAD

    You can use any cookie that can be ground into a powder. This leaves out oatmeal raisin (but plain oatmeal is OK), chocolate chip, anything with nuts or a filling. Don’t despair if this eliminates your favorite: You can add these “textured” ingredients as mix-ins after the butter/spread is blended.

    Some options:

  • Biscoff or other spice cookies
  • Famous Chocolate Wafers or bake your own
  • Ginger snaps
  • Graham crackers
  • Oatmeal cookies
  • Peanut butter cookies
  • Sugar cookies, snickerdoodles
  • Swedish thin cookies (Annas Swedish Thins, Cookie Thins, Moravian Cookies, etc.)
  • Vanilla wafers
  •  
    You can add in anything else that can be smoothly blended or ground:

  • Cocoa powder
  • Flavored extracts
  • Nuts (chopped is better)
  • Purées (e.g. pumpkin for the holidays)
  • Small candies and baking products, e.g. mini chips, mini M&Ms
  • Spices
  •  

    RECIPE: COOKIE SPREAD OR COOKIE BUTTER

    You can keep the spread in the fridge for 14 days, maybe more. If you’re giving it as a gift, note the expiration date on the label.

    If you want to make a homemade version of Biscoff Spread, here’s a recipe.
     
    Ingredients Per 14-Ounce Batch
     
    For The Spread

  • 2 cups (8 ounces) cookie crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons white granulated or light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream, plus more if desired
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla or other extract
  •  
    For The Mix-Ins

  • 1/2 to 1 cup of whatever you like
  •  
    For Serving

  • Assorted cookies, biscuits, toasts, whatever
  •  
    You can serve just one type of cookie; but a selection is more fun.
     
    For Gift-Giving

  • Mason jar or other tightly-lidded container
  •  
    Preparation

    1. GRIND the cookies in a food processor until very fine. Measure out 2 cups.

    2. ADD the crumbs back into the food processor along with the cream, butter and sugar; process until well combined. If the dip is too thick for you, add cream a bit at a time to thin it.

     

    Oreo Cookie Butter

    Biscoff Cupcake & Frosting

    [6] Make cookie spread gifts and party favors (photo courtesy The Cottage Market). [7] Consider double-cookie-spread cupcakes. Sweet As A Cookie went all the way and created this recipe with Biscoff spread in both.

     
    3. BLEND in your choice of mix-ins. Put in a jar in the fridge. To serve, bring to room temperature spreadability.

    We couldn’t sign off without showing you this Biscoff Cheesecake.

      

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